It’s not every day you come across a group whose own name is their genre. And you might not expect such a group to be led by a painted-faced Arthur Brown-like psych-shaman, enticing his brothers and sisters on a journey through the ether. But that’s what Guided Meditation Doomjazz is. The Austin-based trio have been putting out quite a bit of music since 2019 under the guidance of frontman and bassist Blaise The Seeker (aka J Blaise Gans). I myself was intrigued. I’ve enjoyed jazz-doom crossovers for a while, with Neptunian Maximalism’s Solar Drone Ceremony being one of my favorite records of 2021.
Turns out, Guided Meditation Doomjazz do things quite a bit differently than I expected. There is a degree of ‘jazziness’ I suppose, but it is more the off-kilter free jazz of Henry Cow than to say, Mahavishnu Orchestra. The doom elements are also more elusive. Overall, GMDJ’s style is much closer to instrumental post-rock and post-punk.
We start off with Face The Fear, an opener that recalls Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Tarentel. It is basically light guitar notes accompanying drums and bass. Admittedly I wasn’t grabbed, but the song later gave way to some truly ethereal organ tones which lumber into view, giving the song a more cosmic feel. Additionally, there are creaking sound effects which, at first, sound like a machine struggling to work, but later sound like the creaks of a ship at sea. Afterward, the pace is picked up with the title track, Limitless Possibility, beginning with a grooving drum beat that is later accompanied by some ambient guitar and walking basslines. It nicely sets out to do what the band is trying to achieve, a relaxing backdrop for your mind to wander.
a relaxing backdrop for your mind to wander…
Unfortunately, that doesn’t quite work with the track Capable Of Achieving, an eleven plus minute track which sounds like an instrumental song by the Dischord label band Antelope. Much of GMDJ’s approach goes for minimalism, but I think they run the risk of being too loose and not coherent enough. In particular, the drums sometimes struggle to find an effective equilibrium with the bass, and it ultimately gives the impression of a band that has just gotten together and is working around an exploratory jam rather than a well-oiled trio. The post-punk guitar work also leaves a bit to be desired.
The tracks Pained, Exasperated, Grieving and Confidence, Mischievous, Amusement follow this same pattern, opting for a meandering morass of beeping guitar notes and bass lines that aren’t sure where to land, or where to take off. But the final track All The Creativity Within You gives us some keyboard-driven acid weirdness, helping to break up the monotony before the record’s end.
Overall, I respect GMDJ’s mission. They do effectively create a mellow backdrop for a day where you just want to lie down on the couch and look out the window. But there is so little of a skeleton for their psychedelic vessel, too little of a rudder for their ship. I believe that tightening their instrumental approach will benefit their sound immensely. Overall, I wish these Texans good fortune in their continued journey through the cosmos.
Scribed by: Rob Walsh